Sunday, 22 June 2014

Zoella, Youtube and Books


[I've deleted my Alex Day post after hearing that his book got dropped by the publishers - rightly so. However, I feel congratulations is in order to another Youtuber; this time it's Zoe Sugg or Zoella.]

I've been watching Zoe for a long time now. If you don't know of her - she's a Youtuber who recently hit 5,000,000 subscribers on her beauty and lifestyle channel. Recently she's attended various international Youtube gatherings, appeared on live TV and also landed a book deal.

Some may have sighed when they heard of this news through Twitter or Youtube (ugh, another Youtuber getting a book deal, she's not a writer.) However, I'm extremely happy and proud of Zoe. When she mentioned in a video a while back that she wrote a fiction book as a teenager, my ears instantly pricked up. I could definitely relate to her and respected her even more knowing she had the dedication to finish a full blown novel. My happiness for her only increased when she announced she'd been approached by a publisher to publish another fictional venture. Girl Online is due for release on November 25th. 

Girl Online's release excites me no end. Feeling as though I know Zoe well (at least in an internet sense) since I started watching her videos a while ago now, it'll be really interesting to delve into her writing voice, having heard her blogging one. Seeing Zoe so excited and passionate about books, has reignited my passion for them after my exam hiatus. Again, the characters sound very relatable and I'm sure it'll be a great source for teenagers to find advice about growing up. Using her experiences with anxiety and blogging I think will help the book to ring true to people in a similar situation. 

Zoe has become an inspirational role model to many of her viewers. Seeing her so passionate about her book's release inspires me too. I have high expectations, and I have no doubt that it'll be an amazing read. Congratulations Zoe.


Monday, 16 June 2014

My Thoughts On: Afire Love by Ed Sheeran


Since I've been a bit slack in terms of reading or film watching recently, I thought reviewing a song would be the next best thing. This post is inspired by my lovely internet friend Kit, who wrote an awesome review of Happy by Pharrell Williams. I hope this is at least half as good as yours Kit, if you're reading.

My heart leapt when I saw this little gem pop into my sub box. I'm a huge fan of Mr Sheeran's work - anything from his earliest releases like the 'Orange Room' EP including the charmingly angst-y  'Moody Ballad of Ed' - right up until 'Sing' or 'Don't.' With the release of his new album 'X' just a week away, this goose bump inducing track has me even more excited. It's gonna be an incredible album.

While Sheeran has been releasing songs from 'X' gradually until June 23rd, and I've enjoyed all of them, 'Afire Love' is by far my favourite. Opening with the Tom Odell influenced piano melody, his tone melts between passionate and pained. He really does pour his heart out in this one and that's apparent by the seemingly personal lyrics. 

Who doesn't love Ed with a kitten?
Some have criticized Ed's 'change in direction' since the release of 'Sing,' preferring the simple 'guy with a guitar' image that he's portrayed right from the beginning. However, I think this is a perfect mix.'Afire Love' showcases his stunning vocals, also providing a catchy chorus and strong backing track. Fans who want to stick with the '+' era can surely be satisfied with 'One' or 'All of Our Stars.' 

Although the song's lyrics can be interpreted in any way the listener chooses, the message was clear to me. Lines such as 'the devil took your memory' instantly made me think of Alzheimer's disease - a debilitating mental health condition which leads to memory loss. Maybe that's why I love this tune so much; Sheeran addresses issues in his songs that so many people can both empathize and sympathize with. Knowing that one of my favourite artists has experienced something my family has been affected by, makes him far more human and down to earth. I'm sure this song will be a comfort to many people.

I also truly admire Mr Sheeran as a storyteller - he was clearly meant to tell tales through song and he's definitely done so with 'Afire Love.' Listeners can picture the scenes so well, and what makes it even better is the lyrics actually mean something. For me, 'Afire Love' sparks melancholy images of a family in mourning ('Black suit, black tie standin' in the rain') but also ignites heartwarming daydreams of a lost romance ('I could look into your eyes until the sun comes up/ And we’re wrapped in light, in life, in love.') I love the fact that Ed's concentrated on family matters and something close to him, rather than churning out a guaranteed number one. The British music scene needs more of this.

In summary: 'Afire Love' is everything I was hoping for. A fitting tribute, with a powerful chorus and eloquent lyrics. Each of Ed's singles just gets better and better; this one could be on repeat for a while. Four stars. 


Thursday, 12 June 2014

My Thoughts On: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


(That'll make sense in a minute)

I'm back for another review! I was instantly drawn to this one after hearing of it from various people, so let's dive straight in.

Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair anymore  - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there's romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible. 

Now the reason for the tumblr speak is probably apparent. For my birthday I had the pleasure of receiving 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell. 

Instantly after reading the blurb, you're likely to be thinking one of three things. 1) OMG the same one shy/ one outgoing twin plot again?! 2) OMG I'm totally like Cath!!1 3) OMG intense romance?! I'm so in! 

Okay - maybe not as passionately - but those are the kind of thoughts going through my brain (minds out of gutters please on number 3) when I first caught site of the gorgeous cover and illustrations to match. With 2014 in full swing, and the internet becoming an ever present feature in modern life, I think Rowell's struck gold here. Managing to keep the subject not only extremely current, but relatable too, she's able to tap into her market and appeal to teenage internet addicts across the globe. 

If you have mindset number one however, you might need some more convincing to actually open the book. While the twin plot line has been very overused (Double Trouble by good ol' Jacqueline Wilson anyone?) I think this is another clever ploy from the author. While the book is centered mostly around Cath, she's covered all bases. Extrovert? Latch onto Wren. Prefer staying indoors and getting as little Vitamin D as possible? Opt for Cath. It's up to you - both characters are extremely realistic and although Wren can be a bit harsh sometimes, the relationship between the sisters is often palpable. Wren isn't a constant presence throughout the book, but she does what she knows best: explores. Rowell's got family life down to a tea, and it's something I savored as I turned each page. 

Coupled with this is skillful story telling. The style fits with the genre of the book - there's no over egged description which the pace light, like well whipped cream. Third person/past works brilliantly as if the author had used first person I think Cath could've become needy - something definitely not appreciated by readers. It’s another refreshing angle, as not many character based books seem to use this POV but it's effective and helps us see all angles of the story.

So, we’ve got a relatable story and a cast of great secondary as well as main characters. Still need convincing? Okay – how many books that you’ve read within the past year, have romance that make your toes curl with cuteness? Well, I guess that depends if you’re a fangirl yourself, but with my fairly cynical approach to fictional romance, I was melting with happiness when I read certain scenes in Fangirl. I think this is linked again to the style and story-telling. Not to spoil anything for you, but the scene in particular I’m referring to is when Cath reads the entirety of ‘The Outsiders’ to Levi in one evening for an assignment. The atmosphere is captured perfectly – everything is so soft and subtle and delicate. I could read this chapter over and over out of context and it’s still just as beautiful as the first.


Not wanting to be too biased, I've racked my brains to come up with points to balance this review. The first of which being the fan fiction. Between chapters, readers are treated to snippets of Cath's  Harry Potter-esque fan fiction. While the writing at the beginning was enjoyable, it quickly became tiresome. Although I applaud Rowell for trying to weave a completely new story in a fantasy world into the real one, I found myself counting the pages to get back to Cath's plot. I guess this could be seen as a compliment to the author because the main story was so enthralling I was desperate to get the next installment.

The second thing, was the slightly linear  plot. There were no huge twists or turns, and although I couldn't particularly predict the ending, Cath's problems were often solved within a couple of chapters. While I realize the story was mainly character based, and they definitely strung the plot together, I would've liked some twist towards the end to leave me shocked. 

In summary: 'Fangirl' is a thoroughly enjoyable, light but fluffy romance. I think fangirls of the world have certainly related to Cath, and Levi definitely worked his charm on me! Four and a half stars.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Summer: Loading...

*unrecognizable zombie mumble*

Yes, that's right. I'm alive! Thank goodness for that, I'm sure many of you were missing my ramblings.

Being the fortunate 16 year old living in England that I am, I've had the joy of taking and revising for 23 GCSE exams over the past month or so (in fact, today is exactly a month since I started.) This means that I've basically had no life and been unnecessarily stressed more times than I can remember, all for the sake of these qualifications.

Like many people my age, I have issues with our education system. More specifically Micheal Gove, the education secretary for this country. While he claims his reforms will supposedly improve schooling in Britain, I think many students and teachers alike think differently. Getting rid of modular exams for example, or axing To Kill A Mockingbird in favour of British Literature. Ironic that Harper Lee's best selling novel about racism, is being axed because of well, racism?!

But that's a whole other rant that doesn't really belong on this blog. It's basically an excuse of me being away for a while. It's coming up to a year since I started this blog (I keep trying to spell since with an x not a c, that's how brain dead I am...) and I've had over 500 views now, so some people must be finding me through my shameless self promotion on YouTube. I'm not really in it for the numbers though. Books are something I'm really passionate about, and even though I realise I'm not being very original, I definitely have learned to love reviewing. It's not something I'll be stopping.

However, because of exams I've had very little time to read. I got a whole stack of books for my birthday which was the end of March and I've only finished two. Sigh. Luckily, now summer is just around the corner, coupled with Prom and the huge feat of leaving school, I'll have so much more time to write and read and do everything I love.  I hope to edit the first draft of a YA novel I finished a couple of months back, while also starting new projects. It's going to be fun.

I hope summer is worth waiting and working hard for. I'll be soon to reappear when this is all over. For now, I should really be revising for my Maths exam tomorrow. 

Lucy xx